The Greensboro Department of Transportation (GDOT) has a new director and is headed in a new direction, according to City Manager David Parrish.

The new director, Hanna Cockburn, has been working for the North Carolina Department of Transportation for two years as the director of bicycle and pedestrian transportation, and more recently as the director of integrated mobility focusing on the intersection of active transportation, micro-mobility and public transportation.

Before working for the NCDOT, Cockburn from 2013 to 2018 worked in the Greensboro Planning Department as the long range and strategic planning manager.

Cockburn will be replacing Adam Fischer, who retired as director of the GDOT in August 2019. Fischer and the two previous GDOT directors, Jim Westmoreland and Richard Atkins, were all engineers with a background in transportation, roads and highways.

Cockburn is not an engineer and her background is in planning. Her experience in transportation is not in streets and roads but in bicycles, pedestrians and public transportation.

Parrish said about hiring someone without a background in streets and roads, “It’s a little different but I think it will be successful.”

He said, “We still have transportation planning, and bicycles and pedestrians are important parts of our transportation plan. She does bring a different perspective.”

He said, “It’s a different skill set. It will be different.”

And he added, “She’s capable, that’s why the state wanted her and why we’re glad to have her back.”

Parrish said that the GDOT had plenty of people on staff who were capable of designing streets and agreed that travel by private vehicle would continue to be the main form of transportation in Greensboro.

He said, “We’ve built a really good transportation network. It’s one of the best cities to drive in in the county. We’re all about maintaining and enhancing that. In Greensboro you can get about anywhere in 20 minutes, you can’t do that in Charlotte or Raleigh or even sometimes in Winston-Salem.”

He said, “Hanna is strong. She’ll be able to lead all aspects of transportation.”